Pompey Hit With Boxing Day Suckerpunch
Millwall 1 Portsmouth 0
Danny N'Guessan's late goal was enough for Millwall to defeat Pompey in what was a terrible game of football at The Den.
The match was contested by two poor teams that showed no lack of commitment but very little quality. The first half was a war of attrition as both sides struggled to create any clear cut chances.
In fact, it wasn't until very late in the half that anything exciting happened. Liam Lawrence missed a free header from Erik Huseklepp's cross which he really should have done better with but then Liam Feeney should have scored only for his shot to be saved by Stephen Henderson and the rebound from N'Guessan blocked by Pearce right before half time.
The second half was no improvement on the first. Joel Ward burst down the right and produced a decent cross before limping off with an injury and was replaced by Aaron Mokoena.
Both sides failed to create anything as Lawrence's poor free kick hit the wall whilst the home fans were getting angry with the referee despite the fact he got most of the decisions right.
Brian Howard showed Lawrence how a set piece should be struck midway through the half but Henderson did extremely well to get his hand to the fierce shot and force a corner.
The home side were beginning to push for a winner and John Marquis had a great opportunity to give Millwall the lead when he had space in the box but he fired wide when he should have at least hit the target.
Despite the pressure, Pompey still kept the ball well in areas where they couldn't do any damage but lack of a good final ball or options when going forward meant that Steve Mildenhall had little to do all game.
The suckerpunch came nine minutes from time when none of a crowd of players in red and black shirts could win the ball when it was sent into the box by Liam Trotter. Instead, it was flicked on by a man in dark blue for former Southampton man N'Guessan to tap in from all of two yards out.
That goal was hard to take as Pompey had defended soundly up to that point and to concede from having failed to win a defensive header for the first time in the match was disappointing.
Greg Halford had the opportunity to salvage a draw with a free kick but he skied the ball over the bar and the frustration was summed up right at the death when Pompey were having one last attack only for Dave Kitson to misplace his pass and receive a load of abuse from the travelling fans.
That brought an end to a dismal display that was very similar to the performance against Southampton, only we didn't get away with it this time and made a costly mistake at the back.
The main issue here is that despite having more possession than Millwall we rarely did anything meaningful with it and never really troubled Mildenhall who had a comfortable afternoon.
Michael Appleton's style of football that he is asking his team to play is also not very attractive to watch and is certainly not worth the price of admission.
Yes, I like to see Pompey players give their all but I also like to see the team I support have a go, which is something they haven't been doing recently. This 4-5-1 formation doesn't work because there is no pace or width in the side to hit teams on the break, and playing Kitson up front on his own will never produce goals.
The atrocious game of football I saw today was no better than some of the tripe we watched when this team was managed by Steve Cotterill. We can only hope that 'Appy will have the opportunity to bring his own players in come January and change the philosophy of this boring team.
Pompey Player Ratings
Stephen Henderson: 7 - Two excellent saves.
Greg Halford: 6 - Solid and tried to get forward.
Ricardo Rocha: 6 - Dealt with most of the danger.
Jason Pearce: 6 - Lost N'Guessan for the goal but got in the way of everything else.
Joe Mattock: 6 - Defended well for the most part.
Joel Ward: 6 - Looked bright until he limped off.
Hayden Mullins: 6 - Did the usual job.
Liam Lawrence: 4 - Offers little these days, poor set-pieces.
David Norris: 6 - Worked hard.
Erik Huseklepp: 5 - Not very effective.
Dave Kitson: 5 - Gave the ball away much too often.
Aaron Mokoena (Ward 48): 6 - Did the ugly stuff.
Marko Futacs (Huseklepp 74): N/A - Couldn't change the game.
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